'Erratic' winds, dry conditions fuel deadly California fires

Geneva Stokes
July 30, 2018

"This was my house since I was born", he said, getting emotional. "It's completely gone.it's the craziest thing you have ever seen".

TRT World's Arabella Munro reports.

The fire in the Redding area has left five people dead, including a 70-year-old woman and her two young great-grandchildren.

The sixth victim, who was not identified, did not flee despite receiving an evacuation warning, Bosenko said.

"My babies are dead, " Sherry Bledsoe said through tears after she and family members met with Shasta County sheriff's deputies.

Residents who gathered their belongings in haste described a chaotic and congested getaway as the embers blew up to a mile ahead of flames and the fire leaped across the wide Sacramento River and torched subdivisions in Redding, a city of 92,000 about 100 miles south of the OR border.

On Saturday, it pushed southwest of Redding, the largest city in the region, toward the tiny communities of Ono, Igo and Gas Point.

Jade Ball, 25, and Jack Fannin, 19, both of Redding, were found after the homeowner on the 11000 block of Quartz Hill Road waved down a Chico Police officer patrolling the area on behalf of the Shasta County Sheriff's Department, according to a news release.

Earlier in the day, with flames exploding around Whiskeytown Lake, people tried to save boats at a marina by untying them from moorings and pushing them to safety. On Friday an Associated Press reporter counted at least 125 burned homes.

The blaze leveled at least 125 homes, leaving neighborhoods smoldering and 37,000 people under evacuation orders.

Days later, police won't let them back inside because it's still too risky.

Bonnie Kieffaber, 69, says being away from home is expensive.

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They said he had battled "severe mental health challenges, struggling with psychosis and depression his entire life". One of Donny Kozis' high school friends set up a GoFundMe page on Wednesday to raise money to support the family.

"We're not fighting a fire", said Jonathan Cox, battalion chief with Cal Fire. She said she nearly grabbed a box of mementos - trinkets, diaries, ticket stubs from her favorite movies - but then thought it would take up too much room in the auto. "The heat and the stress of it all, and praying for everybody and all of our friends".

An 81-year-old bulldozer operator named Don Ray Smith and a fire inspector with the Redding Fire Department named Jeremy Stoke were also killed in the Carr Fire.

The blaze in Redding, about 150 miles (240 km) north of Sacramento, on Thursday killed a bulldozer operator working with fire teams to clear brush around the fire.

According to the AFP, "Two young children and their 70-year-old great-grandmother Melody Bledsoe died in the Carr Fire, their family confirmed to U.S. media". Bosenko didn't provide any further details about the victim, but said the case was under investigation.

Law enforcement officials are now trying to locate 17 people reported missing, but noted that the number of missing has fluctuated in recent days as new people are reported missing and others located, Redding Police Sergeant Todd Cogle said by telephone.

Another northern California fire, the Mendocino Complex - made up of two fires - has also burned more than 24,000 acres in total since Friday.

At last word, the blaze was only 5 percent contained and has showed no signs of slowing down.

Firefighters endured hot temperatures and remained wary of the possibility of gusty winds, said Anthony Romero, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

A big fire continued to burn in the San Jacinto Mountains east of Los Angeles near Palm Springs, but officials lifted evacuation orders for several communities after reporting significant progress by firefighters.

The fire also reportedly burned structures in Shasta, located 10 miles west of Redding, and in Keswick. Yosemite National Park remains closed while thousands of structures are threatened. Officials in neighboring Lake County say residents of Benmore Valley were ordered to evacuate Saturday morning.

Melody Bledsoe's home was engulfed in flames Thursday.

"The good news is that our house is here".

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